Monday, January 1, 2018

The Top 10ish Movies of 2017

While 2017 lacked the one film to knock my socks off and earn itself a perfect score, it did turn out to be a deep year for quite a few quality films to whittle down into a single list. Here's the thing, I've got nine movies that made the cut and four equally-good movies to somehow try and fit into a single remaining slot. Rather than expand the list, break my list off one short of the magic number, or randomly pick one to include (doing a disservice to the others), I've decided to do something a bit different and give you some say in what movie rounds out the list. Here are The Top 10ish Movies of 2017.

Before we get started, here's are a few quick honorable mentions. Ferdinand proved to be the year's best animated feature. An irredeemable Robert Pattinson impressed in Good Time. Kumail Nanjiani proved you can make a good romantic comedy with the semi-autobiographical The Big Sick. And Emma Watson shined in the live-adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Now on to the list...

10. Choose Your Own Adventure

There are nine solid entries below, but which one film should be added to complete the list? Rather than randomly select one of four equally-deserving films, I'm going to leave it to you to decide. Is one of your favorites here? Great! Pick that one! Your choices (in alphabetical order) are: Edgar Wright's musical heist flick Baby Driver, the smart (and timely) indie sci-fi film Colossal, Aaron Sorkin's engaging Molly’s Game, and the DCU's sole savior Wonder Woman. All are deserving, so choose the one which most appeals to you.

With the exception of Molly's Game (currently in theaters), the others are all available on Blu-ray and DVD.

9. Planet Hulk

The first two Thor films were fine, but hardly exceptional. The first two Hulk films were... not as good. So the choice to pair up the two heroes together in a film that would mashup the destruction of Asgard with Planet Hulk storyline seemed an odd choice. The result however, turned out to be a film that pulled back on Marvel's growing need to make a joke out of every dramatic moment (while still providing boatloads of fun and humor) and allowed Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to have a fun space adventure in which, for the first time, the God of Thunder finally outshone his more charismatic brother. Read the full review.

Currently in theaters.

8. The Return of Luke Skywalker

Unlike Thor: Ragnarok, which has no higher expectations than to be a great summer popcorn flick, Star Wars: The Last Jedi takes several chances. Offering up similar situations (a reclusive and reluctant Jedi Master unwilling to train a new pupil), and even specific scenes (the throne room staredown), which we had seen before in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson subverts expectations by coloring more outside the lines than the franchise's previous entry. The result allows for a far more complicated character for Mark Hamill to play (while still allowing Luke his big hero moment), cements Rey (Daisy Ridley) as the current trilogy's main star, and actually gives Oscar Isaac something to do. Johnson allows Luke to shine without undercutting the younger stars who now will have their hands full in the trilogy's conclusion. Read the full review.

Currently in theaters.

7. The Best Tourist Video Ever Made?

One of the most pleasant surprises of 2017 was this Turkish documentary which showcases the city of Istanbul through the eyes of several street cats and the locals who treat them as family. While several of the movies further down on this list go to some dark places, Kedi is a beautiful film (and a must-see for cat lovers everywhere). Read the full review.

Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

6. Dressed for Success

For his final performance in film, Daniel Day-Lewis chooses the talented but fussy dress designer Reynolds Woodcock in a film built around three terrific actors in Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps (as the new woman in Woodcock's life), and Lesley Manville (Woodcock's overbearing and controlling sister). While some may find the slow pace of Paul Thomas Anderson's latest feature frustrating at times, his approach allows the actors room to shine while providing a great payoff for those patient enough to wait for it. Read the full review.

Currently playing in theaters in select cities.

5. In the Shadow of the Happiest Place on Earth

Less structured than every other film on this list, Sean Baker's slice-of-life examines troubled 6 year-old Mooney (Brooklynn Prince), her friends, her mother (Bria Vinaite), and the hotel's manager (Willem Dafoe) who tries to keep everything working as best he can. Dark and poignant, we see the cracks in Mooney's world threaten to prematurely end the mirage of her idyllic childhood. The last act in particular is a heartwrencher, but it's worth it. Read the full review.

Still playing in theaters in select cities; available on DVD and Blu-ray February 13th.

4. Beauty and the Creature from the Black Lagoon

A mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) falls for a captive creature (Doug Jones) in Guillermo del Toro's take on the classic Beauty and the Beast story which offers Michael Shannon as the villain to root against and Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer as our heroine's friends and allies. The Shape of Water is beautiful and bizarre as only Guillermo del Toro can deliver. Read the full review.

Currently in theaters.

3. The Hidden Horrors of White Suburbia

The horrors of white suburbia are unleashed on Daniel Kaluuya in Jordan Peele's thriller-satire as the trip to meet his girlfriend's (Allison Williams) parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) takes one odd turn after another and reveals a hidden dark nature to suburbia that shatters his world. Chosen Best Film of the year by the Kansas City Film Critics Circle (and only beaten out of the top spot here by a pair of great films), Get Out is a must-see. Read the full review.

Now available on home video.

2. The Unflinching Eye of History

This movie is nearly as good as it is hard too watch (and it is brutal to watch). Detroit may have been a box-office disappointment, but Kathryn Bigelow gets the most out of both cast and crew in her unflinching retelling of the Algiers Motel killings during Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot. Filmed 50 years later, in a country still plagued with similar instances of racism and police brutality, Detroit is as much about the world we live in today as a look back at a dark period in history. The film isn't easy to watch, but the performances are terrific across the board in a story worth retelling. Read the full review.

Now available on home video.

1. The Best Movie of 2017

Writer/director Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a movie filled with flawed individuals in pain lashing out in any number of ways including distraught mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) who rents out three billboards on an unused stretch of road in order to call out the locals sheriff (Woody Harrelson) for his inability to solve her daughter's gruesome murder. Raw emotional drama mixed with dark comedy make for a near-perfect concoction. McDormand and Harrelson head a cast which includes Sam Rockwell as a shit-kicker deputy sheriff and Peter Dinklage who has his own interest in Mildred. As with Detroit, there are no easy answers here or quick solutions as the characters work through their pain knowing that no matter what happens from here their lives will never be the same again. Read the full review.

Currently in theaters.

No comments: